Above All, Honor
See part 1 for all disclaimers and copyright information.
As she drove through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan, Cam reminded herself that she was in New York City for the sole purpose of attending the opening of her mother's gallery exhibition. It was the first East Coast showing in a number of years, and Cam knew it would please her mother for her to be there. She had absolutely no intention of visiting the command center, and certainly no desire to see Blair Powell. She reminded herself of this every few minutes, whenever she found her mind drifting to the images that she thought she had successfully eradicated. Images of Blair, in a smoky bar, her hair wild and her hunger unleashed; Blair, elegant and cool on the dais of the parade route; Blair, vulnerable and weary in the hospital after the ski accident. Blair's memory triggered a kaleidoscope of wistful wanting and explosive sexual desire. Cam forced her concentration back to the congested city traffic, grateful for something, anything, to distract her from the aching need that was never far from the surface of her consciousness.
She allowed the attendant at the Plaza to valet park her car, and gave the bellman her luggage to bring up to her penthouse suite. She was not traveling on company time, and felt no need to account for her expenditures. In fact, she felt unaccountable to anyone for the first time in her adult memory. She was between assignments, and despite Stewart Carlisle's edict, she had no intention of performing any duty for the United States of America for the next seven days.
She signed in, and as soon as she was alone in her suite, she showered off the drive’s dust and grit. She had an hour and a half until the evening opening of her mother's show. She stood naked before the bathroom mirror, trying to tame her unruly waves into position.
She surveyed her image unemotionally. Her hair was still short and sleek, with new touches of gray at the temples. Despite the lengthy convalescence, with vigorous physical therapy and workouts, she had maintained her muscle mass and strength. She was sinewy and taut. The only visible difference were the scars on her torso from the surgical incisions and the multiple tubes that had been necessary to reinflate her lungs. She looked at herself dispassionately, and wondered for a moment how she would appear to another. She dismissed the thought quickly. It was a moot point.
She went about the process of dressing absent-mindedly. She did not glance at her reflection again, knowing that the black silk jacket and trousers were perfectly tailored for her, that her loafers were perfectly shined, and that the French cuffs of her white starched shirt were exactly the right length. When the driver let her out in front of the address she had given him, she knew that she was precisely on time. Everything in her life was exactly as it should be - predictable, ordered, and under control.
The room was already full when Cam entered, as she expected it would be. The crowd overflowed the first level, up the stairs to the second floor of the gallery, a noisy mass of murmuring critics, artists, and members of the press. Cam accepted a glass of wine from a passing waiter, and began a slow tour of the area, stopping to study each new canvas. It had been a long time since she had seen so many of her mother's works in one place, and she had not seen any of her most recent works. The hallmark characteristics of her mother style were clearly evident, but Cam was surprised to find that the paintings seemed calmer at their core, with less of the pain that had been so evident in the early years following her father's death.
Eventually, Cam heard her mother's distinctive voice, and gravitated toward it. Her mother was tall like herself, and Cam could see her face despite the crowd of people around her. Marcea appeared relaxed, although something in her eyes spoke of exhilaration. Cam knew it was because she was talking about the thing she loved most in life, her art.
When she had almost reached the group, Cam stopped short, her heart pounding. Blair was standing next to her mother. It was as if someone had struck her, driving the breath from her body. For one moment, her mind was numb. Then every sensation she had been trying to suppress regarding Blair Powell returned. Her pulse raced, her blood pounded, and her hands began to tremble. Blair looked up and their eyes met. Blair's lips parted in surprise, and her blue eyes widened. A faint blush stole across her cheeks. She took an involuntary stepped forward, as if intending to rush toward Cam, then halted uncertainly. Moments passed.
Surprisingly, Blair regained her composure first. She threaded her way through the intervening crowd until she stood in front of Cam. She tilted her head and smiled wistfully. "How are you, Commander?" She asked quietly.
Cam finally found her voice, and answered with as much control as she could muster. "I'm fine, Ms Powell."
Blair studied her carefully. Physically, she did look fine. As striking as ever. But there was a strange flatness in her gaze, and an emptiness in her voice, as if something vital were missing.
Instinctively, Blair touched her arm. She was shocked to feel her tremble. "Are you sure?" she asked again, unable to hide her anxiety.
Cam nodded curtly, trying to hide her turmoil. "You have me at a disadvantage. I didn't see any of our people outside or in the crowd."
"Ever observant, Commander. They're in a car parked across the street." She continued quickly, when she saw Cam frown. Blair's smile widened as she assured Cam that everyone in attendance had been thoroughly prescreened. "I'm quite safe."
Cam finally smiled, and began to relax. "Forgive me. It is not my place to question these things any longer. It was good to see you again, Ms. Powell." She turned to leave, needing to escape from the penetrating blue gaze and the searing touch on her arm.
"Wait, Cam," Blair said impulsively. When Cameron turned back to look at her questioningly, she continued, "I wanted to say -- ' thank you'. It is so inadequate, but - I - thank you."
Cam spoke without thinking. "You don't need to thank me. I couldn't have borne it if anything had happened to you."
Blair grasped her hand, and their fingers entwined instinctively. "Why do you think I would feel any differently?" She questioned, her throat closing on the words. "I was so frightened – don't you know I lo—"
"I should go," Cam said desperately. Her carefully constructed barricades were tumbling around her. Every defense she had so carefully constructed was shattering in the face of Blair's simple statement. She felt defenseless, vulnerable, and overwhelmed.
"No, I should go. You came to see your mother. I know she is looking forward to you being here." Blair tried unsuccessfully to hide her bitter disappointment. She didn't think she could stand to be in the same room as Cam and feel the great distance between them. It was like a physical blow. "It was good to see you again, too, Commander. Please know I'll never forget you."
And with that, she was gone.
Marcea kissed her daughter on both cheeks, then grasped both her hands and leaned back, surveying her fondly. "I'm so glad you came, Cameron. I know these aren't your favorite events."
Cam tried to smile, still shaken by her encounter with Blair. "I'm sorry it's been so long. I'm so happy for you."
Marcea detected the turmoil in her daughter's eyes, and glanced briefly around the room. She did not see Blair. She hesitated for a moment, and then spoke gently. "I know that Blair was hoping to see you here, too."
Cam swallowed, replying softly, "We just spoke."
Marcea remained silent, sensing Cameron's struggle for composure. Instinctively, she continued, "I'm sure no one told you, Cameron, but Blair stayed by your side for almost 48 hours after you were injured. She refused to leave until the doctors told us that you were out of danger."
Cam gasped, and her eyes closed briefly. "It was her," she whispered.
"Yes," her mother said simply.
Cameron at looked her mother intently, a great weight suddenly lifting from her heart. She smiled, her eyes flickering with a light that had been absent for more than a year. "Thank you, mother. Thank you."
Marcea had no time to answer before Cam turned and swiftly made her way through the crowd and out the door.
"I need to see her, Mac," Cam said much more calmly than she felt. "I've been leaving messages for hours."
Mac didn't even consider not telling her. "She's downtown. We know where she is, but it's awkward to make contact at the present time."
Cam didn't need an interpreter. "Okay, so she's in a bar." She took a deep breath, trying to ignore the sinking sensation in her stomach. "Or is it that she's gone home with someone she picked up?"
"No," Mac hastened to add clarify. "She didn’t. She’s still at the bar." He didn't think it was his place to tell her that this was the first time in months that Blair had been out to a bar, or that she seemed to have given up her penchant for one night stands.
"I'd appreciate it if you’d tell me which one," Cam stated quietly.
"The Hudson Arms," Mac said, indicating one of the seedier bars deep in the village. "Stark is inside somewhere."
Meaning Stark will recognize me if I show up, and he's worried about my reputation "Thanks, Mac," Cam said, not caring in the least what anyone thought.
Thirty-five minutes later Cam was standing at the bar, surreptitiously scanning the room. It was Friday night, after midnight, and crowded with women of all ages, mostly in denim and leather. She didn't see her immediately, but she did see Stark. Stark saw her too, although Stark did not acknowledge her in any way. A slight raise of the eyebrow was all that indicated she had been spotted.
She's getting good, Cam thought with approval. She stopped searching faces, and allowed all of her senses to engage the room, feeling the damp heat of many bodies brushing against her skin; smelling the mixture of alcohol, cologne, and sex in the air; and hearing the murmur of the hunt swirling around her. She sensed rather than saw the ultimate huntress in the crowd.
Tawny blond hair, taut golden body, and a piercing, searching gaze that evaluated, then discarded, possible partners. Finally Blair's focus settled on a dark, lean warrior in tight blue jeans and a sleeveless black T-shirt. The young stud must have felt Blair's appraising glance, because she looked up and moved automatically closer to Blair. Cam didn't need to see any more. She knew exactly what would happen, and how quickly the capture would be consummated.
Not this time
Cam moved quickly, reaching Blair just as the dark-haired youth stretched out a hand to brush Blair's cheek.
Cam grasped the woman's wrist, firmly but not harshly. "Sorry, she's not available."
The younger woman attempted a show of bravado, stiffening as she turned to face Cam. "Oh yeah? Since when?" she said with a sneer.
Cam's voice was low, but steely. "Since right now."
There must have been something in Cam's demeanor that warned of impending danger, because the other woman hesitated for a brief second, then melted swiftly into the crowd.
"Thanks a lot. You just ruined my evening," Blair said by way of greeting. She was secretly shocked to see Cam, and even more at a loss to explain her actions. It was the first time Cam had ever overtly interfered with Blair's private activities. As if that weren't enough, there was a coiled tension in her ex- security chief's body that was impossible to miss. If she didn't know better, she would've thought it was sexual.
"Ruining your evening was not what I had in mind," Cameron rejoined.
Blair caught her breath, but managed to respond evenly, "Oh? And just what did you have in mind?"
Cameron reached for her hand and tugged. "Come with me."
Blair hesitated, so shocked she felt disoriented. "No, wait -- we can't. Stark is on the other side of the room."
Cameron looked at her coolly. "It won't be the first time she's seen you leave with a woman." Her tone was flat, but not unkind. She saw no point in pretending that they both didn't know what had happened in the past.
"Yes, but it would be the first time she's ever seen me leave with you."
Cam's face softened, and she linked her fingers gently through Blair's. "Don't let it concern you. It doesn't bother me. Please -- " she tugged on Blair's hand again, leading her through the crowd.
Blair felt strangely powerless to resist. Perhaps because she had absolutely no desire to.
Blair followed, unprotesting, through the dark night to Cam's car, riding silently beside her, walking wordlessly through the lobby, until finally she stood in the hotel room, looking around her.
"I have no idea why I'm here," Blair said softly.
Cameron stopped and turned, their bodies mere inches apart. "Don't you?"
Blair caught her breath, acutely aware of the heat in Cameron's gaze, feeling her own heart race as a swell of desire coursed through her. "No." All her usual quick retorts and caustic replies had deserted her. This was a new experience. She was suddenly immersed in a scene she had not written, in a role she did not know how to play. She had only her instincts to fall back on, and the unavoidable demands of her own emotions. "I can only hope."
Her honesty made her touchingly vulnerable.
Cam shed her jacket swiftly, tossing it onto the couch. She moved just as quickly to take Blair into her arms. "Do I need to tell you that I want you? Is there anything words can convey that this can't?"
As she whispered the words, her hands dropped to Blair's buttocks, pulling Blair into her as her mouth came down heavily, possessively, on Blair's lips. There was no mistaking the message in her actions.
Blair was beyond surprise. How many nights she had lain awake, trying not to think about how much she wanted this elusive woman. The countless times she had attempted to ablate the need with her own touch. But even her familiar hands, and unerring caresses, could not still the longing in her body. The reality was so much more than her imaginings, she could scarcely absorb it. Something in her core was melting, surging white hot and molten through her limbs. She clutched Cam's shoulders for support, uncertain how long she could stand. She opened her mouth in response to the harsh pressure of Cam's kisses, instantly filled with Cam's probing tongue. She bit down hard enough to make Cam grunt, and sucked ferociously as Cameron yanked the blouse from Blair's jeans and trust her hands upward along Blair's rib cage. Blair moaned as Cam grasped her breasts, her strong fingers squeezing Blair's nipples. Suddenly, fear warred with desire. No one had touched her this way in years. She had never wanted anyone to touch her this way. She was close to totally losing control, and the small part of her mind that was still able to function rebelled.
"No," Blair gasped, yanking her mouth away.
Cam did not want to stop. She lowered her head and grasped the soft skin of Blair's neck in her teeth. She tugged, growling, as she thrust her thigh between Blair's legs. "I've wanted you for so long," she gasped, her teeth on Blair's earlobe now, biting lightly as her tongue swirled over the sensitive ridges. "Please -- "
Blair couldn't think, as each second her body pushed closer to the edge. Dimly, she was aware of the rhythmic motion of her own pelvis rubbing against the hard muscles of Cam's thigh. A terrible pressure was building between her legs, and she whimpered as spasms began to ripple outward.
"Oh no," she gasped, her voice quite different now. "I think I'm going to come -- "
Cameron laughed, a triumphant half sob, as she lifted her up, forcing Blair to thread her legs around Cam's waist for balance. Cam held the trembling woman in her arms as she moved toward her bedroom.
"Hold on to it," Cam whispered urgently. "Wait as long as you can --I want to taste you first."
Blair struggled to focus on Cam's face as Cam lowered her to the bed. Blair reached for the buttons on her jeans as Cam urgently stripped off her own clothing. She grabbed for Cam, pulling her heavily down on top of her, scissoring her legs around Cam's thigh again. She bit down hard on the skin and muscle of Cam's shoulder, rubbing herself desperately along Cam's leg.
"I don't think I can," Blair gasped, her fingers digging into Cam's back. "I want to come so much --oh, oh --Jesus, I need to --"
Cam braced her arms on the bed and pushed herself up, and in one fluid motion slid down between Blair's legs. She wasn't thinking, she was too hungry for that. It had been so long, so very long. She slipped the palms of her hands under Blair's buttocks and lifted, Blair's legs settling around her shoulders. Then Cam's lips were on her, sucking her heat, swallowing her desire, stroking her need. She could feel Blair's clit throbbing between her lips, and she knew that even as she began to lick her that Blair was coming. She didn't stop, even when Blair cried out repeatedly. She kept up the motion, stroking harder, faster, until once again she felt Blair's clitoris swell and pulsate. She drove Blair relentlessly, not caring about anything except her own ferocious need to consume her. Within moments, Blair was trembling, her hands twisted in Cameron's hair.
"Oh god, it feels so good --" Blair wailed as her body convulsed.
Cameron didn't move for many moments after Blair quieted, resting her cheek on the soft smooth skin of Blair's inner thigh. She listened to Blair breathe, as her own racing heart stilled. Her lids fluttered on the edge of sleep, and she drifted, content and completely satisfied.
Cam awoke with Blair slowly stroking her hair. It was dark, with a faint grey at the window that hinted at dawn. The sheets were twisted about her waist, and she still lay half upon Blair’s body.
"Are you cold?" Cam murmured, pulling the covers with her as she pushed upward, slipping an arm behind Blair’s shoulders as she moved.
"No," Blair whispered as she turned into Cam, resting her head on Cam's shoulder. There was a moment of silence as they tentatively pressed closer, each acutely aware of the others uncertainty.
"I can't remember the last time someone made love to me," Blair finally said.
Cam could remember precisely the last time she had made love to another woman. It had been casually, as if it were only one time in many, with many more to come. She hadn't known that early morning two years ago that it would be the last time she would touch Janet alive.
"It's been a very long time for me too," was all Cam said. She had no need to explain or relive the past. It had taken until now, and had taken this particular woman, to awaken a desire that had lain buried in pain and guilt for months.
If Blair wondered about Cam's past, she did not ask. What they needed to know of each other had begun with that morning when Cam had first appeared at Blair's apartment, commanding and certain and unyielding. The memory rekindled Blair's desire, and she lowered her head to softly kiss the tender skin just below Cam's right nipple. Then parting her lips, she nipped gently, eliciting a soft groan from Cam. She waited a heartbeat, then took Cam's nipple into her mouth, worrying it with her tongue and teeth. She continued until Cam pressed upward, her hips arching slightly off the bed. Blair moved lower, kissing and lightly biting along Cam's ribs, down the flat plane of her belly, until she circled Cam's naval with her tongue. Cam's hands were in her hair, urging her downward, but Blair resisted, taking her time, wanting to be sure that she had Cam's full attention. Lightly she trailed her fingers up the inside of Cam's legs, stopping just short of the heat that radiated from her.
"Jesus," Cam gasped, "are you going to make me beg for it?"
Blair nestled her breasts between Cam's legs. She could feel the slick warmth against her own nipples. "That was the general idea."
Cam rotated her hips, attempting to draw the teasing firmness of Blair's nipples across the tip of her clit. She groaned, a deep choking sound. "Just touch me a little, just a little--"
Blair brought her right hand upward, pressing her thumb against the ring of muscle encircling Cam's ass. She did not enter, but stroked over the slick tissues.
Cam pressed her head back against the pillows, gritting her teeth, wanting the pleasure to continue, not knowing if it she could bear it. "You're killing me, I swear to god --"
Blair smiled, flicking her tongue over the base of Cam's clitoris. "Oh, I doubt you'll go that easily, Commander," she whispered throatily. She was rewarded with a faint sob.
Taking her time, Blair traced the very edges of the swollen tissues with her tongue, sliding inside at the same time. Cam's muscles contracted violently around Blair's fingers, her clitoris lengthening and became harder still.
"Do it, please, do it, do it --" Cam pleaded desperately.
As much as she wanted to savor every instant of Cam's desire, Blair was starting to lose control herself. She had wanted this for so long, and the reality was so much more than she had imagined, her head was pounding and her thighs clenched and unclenched involuntarily. When she took Cam between her lips, she could feel an answering surge in her own clitoris. She never came without direct stimulation, but she realized that she was very nearly there just from touching Cameron. She squeezed her eyes tightly and tried to focus on Cam's rhythm.
Suddenly Cameron twisted on the bed, shifting so that she lay beside Blair, her face close to Blair's belly. Seamlessly, they moved to echo each other's caresses, lips and hands calling and answering as instinctively as their two hearts beat in synchrony. Cam was already too close, and started to come almost as soon as Blair began licking her in long steady strokes. Cam moaned, her lips encircling Blair's clitoris, sucking as her breath caught in her throat. Her fingers clasped Blair's buttocks, pulling Blair even harder against her face, trying to maintain contact as her body bucked and surged with the explosion between her legs. Distantly, she heard Blair whimper, and knew that Blair had been caught on the crest of their twin passions.
When they awoke again, it was late morning
"I'm surprised Mac hasn't found you yet," Cameron remarked lazily.
"He's not as good as you are," Blair said quietly.
"You should probably call them."
"Why? Stark knew I left with you," Blair observed.
"I know. But they may not know that you're still with me, and there's no need to cause a panic."
Blair thought about it for a minute, then padded into the other room and made the call. While she was there, she called room service as well and ordered a late breakfast for them both. She stood in the doorway of the bedroom, observing Cameron propped up on the pillows, a sheet drawn up to her waist. She caught her breath, amazed at how much she wanted her.
"How long are you here for?" Blair asked, trying to appear nonchalant.
"Officially? Another four days. I have a new assignment and I'm supposed to report back to Washington for it."
Blair tried to hide her disappointment. What did you expect?
Cameron watched her carefully, finding her expression impossible to read. "Unofficially, I'm supposed to be here observing you."
Blair laughed, but there was an edge to her tone when she said, "Well, your methods are certainly unorthodox."
"I told them I wouldn't do it," Cam clarified.
Blair said on the edge of the bed, her hand resting possessively on Cam's thigh. "Why not?"
Cam lifted Blair's hand to her lips, and kissed each fingertip. "Because Mac is a good man, and I know he can do the job." She turned Blair's hand over, and pressed her lips to Blair's palm. "And because I respect you, and I know how little privacy you have left."
"But you came to the bar last night," Blair observed quietly.
Cam nodded, reaching for Blair and pulling her into her arms. "That wasn't business. That was personal."
Blair closer her eyes, fearful of how much she wanted to hear these words. "How personal?"
Cam's embrace tightened, and she rested her cheek against the top of Blair's head. Her voice was husky as she answered quietly, "As personal as it gets."
Continue on to Part 10
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